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EXECUTED IN 20 SECONDS; Drug dealer gunned down in pub packed with soccer fans.


DETECTIVES were last night hunting a gunman who riddled a drug dealer with bullets in front of horrified pubgoers as they watched soccer.

Drinkers dived for cover as gangster John "Champagne" Carroll was blasted up to six times by an assassin dressed in black.

The shooter fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice after an attack which gardai believe took less than 20 seconds as punters watched the Manchester United match on Wednesday night.

Investigators believe the murder may be linked to a turf war between dissident republicans and drug gangs.

Father-of-three Carroll, 33, had no convictions but was linked to notorious criminals - including dissident republican hitman Bernard Dempsey.

It was the sixth murder in seven weeks of gangland feuding in the capital.

A Garda source said: "Carroll has plenty of friends who are well capable of organising revenge attacks.

Feelings are running high after his death and the fear is that the reaction will come sooner rather than later."

Carroll had been drinking with pals in Grumpy Jacks Pub on the Coombe in the south inner city when two men pulled up outside on a motorbike at around 9.30pm.

The pillion passenger - still wearing his helmet - walked into the pub and singled out Carroll, who was sitting at the back of the bar.

Around 20 customers looked on in horror as the gunman fired from a 9mm handgun, hitting Carroll in the lower body and backside.

The hitman calmly pumped five more shots into Carroll's body. The killer then walked quickly from the bar and was driven from the scene by his accomplice.

Gardai from nearby Kevin Street arrived at the pub within two minutes and Carroll was taken by ambulance to St James's Hospital.

Surgeons battled to save him but he died at around 11.30pm.

Carroll had been living at Ffrench Mullen flats off Charlemont Street, less than a mile from where he was killed. He was well known to gardai and had been heavily involved in drug dealing across Dublin.

Local families yesterday told of their shock at the murder.

Gran Anne O'Reilly, 72, said: "It's very frightening that this could happen in your road and in the pub where people just want to go for a quiet drink."

Another local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "I would drink there often enough and I was in there earlier on last night. It's quiet, an old man's pub really."

Supt Thady Muldoon said gardai were trying to establish how Carroll ended up in the pub - and if he had been lured there.

He said officers were also checking to see if the attack had been captured by CCTV cameras in the pub. Supt Muldoon appealed for anyone who was in the area on Wednesday night or who may have seen the blue motorbike used in the hit to contact gardai.

Carroll was originally from Baldoyle in north Dublin but had most recently been living in the south-inner city.

Traumatised friends who gathered at his home yesterday said his partner and family were too devastated to talk about the death.

He had been targeted by gardai based at Kevin Street and by the Drug Unit as part of Operation Abalone.

He was suspected of linking up with gangs to facilitate shipments of heroin into the country - and gardai believe he was killed over a drug deal.

Carroll was known to be an associate of dissident republican thugs, including jailed hardman Bernard Dempsey, 50.

Dempsey shot champion kick-boxer James Curran, 42, in Dublin's Green Lizard pub in April 2005 - and his gangland cronies unsuccessfully plotted to collapse his murder trial by intimidating the jury.

Gardai at Kevin Street are appealing for information on 01 6669400 or on the confidential line 1800 666 111.

Car sales manager and his crime pals

CARROLL claimed his main source of income was a job as a manager with a car dealership.

But he mixed with some of Ireland's most notorious criminals, including Martin "The General" Cahill's lieutenant John Cunningham.

Cunningham was jailed for 17 years for the kidnap of heiress Jennifer Guinness in 1986. Carroll was also involved with Clive Bolger, 38, who learnt his trade from Martin "The Viper" Foley before buying cannabis off John Gilligan. It is frightening that this could happen in your road and in the pub where people just want a quiet drink


SCENE Gardai at Dublin pub yesterday Picture: COLIN KEEGAN/COLLINS; ATTACK Pint glass on table as pub is sealed off; PROBE Garda forensic team yesterday; CLUES A door handle is removed by officers
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 20, 2009
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